A mellow rom-com with humor and realism.
Director: Jesse Peretz (Girls)
Screenplay: Evgenia Peretz (Theo Who Lived), et al. from Nick Hornby novel.
Cast: Chris O’Dowd (Loving Vincent), Rose Byrne (Spy)
Runtime: 1 h 45 min
By: John DeSando
Juliet, Naked is a rom-com with its head on straight. Neither over the top nor dark, it strikes the right tone of realism and romance despite the formulaic approach of boy meets girl, etc. Rose Byrne’s protagonist, Annie, a smart and strong-willed anthropologist and curator at a small museum in a Brit seaside town, has a balanced profile of wit and realism. She’s a lady not easily seduced by ancient rocker, Tucker (Ethan Hawke), who comes into her life via the Internet and her boyfriend, Duncan (Chris O’Dowd).
Typically for a romantic comedy, Annie is bored with professor/lover Duncan and finds his scholarly preoccupation with Tucker to be tedious. Until she meets Tucker, and the real romance of this comedy begins.
Director Jesse Peretz and his writers skillfully adapted the Nick Hornby novel to keep the tone light despite a heart attack and multiple progeny by different women having Tucker scramble for sanity when they all meet in the hospital. That is one of the film’s fine moments of a lunatic family reunion. Contrasting the de-riled family, Annie turns out to be an anchor for Tucker, with whom she had already formed an Internet connection.
The nice thing about this budding romance is it’s slow, not sex filled, and rooted in a skepticism on both sides that rings true in the face of a rom-com formula frequently demanding instant passion and commitment. Even Duncan, his scholarly interest in Tucker bordering on obsessive, comes off as in love with Annie, but not silly, just self-absorbed and oblivious to her needs.
Juliet, Naked is a fresh take on the rom-com, easy going and poignant, but infused with enough love to make the romance authentic and the comedy light enough to allow for genuine affection in the face of daunting family and professional intrusions.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com